Cougs wow Bay Area athlete on visit

HE'S A SELF-DESCRIBED big-city kid. So he wasn't quite sure about Pullman, a college town, when he first arrived this weekend on his official visit to Washington State. But it didn't take long, he said, before the unique charms and atmosphere of Wazzu had won him over.

Vince Buhagiar (6-3, 230, 4.79) out of Concord, near Oakland, came away from his WSU official visit high on all things crimson.

"I really like the atmosphere. You've got a Cougar sign on the floor of the Safeway, it's in the middle of the intersections, everyone is walking around wearing their crimson and gray. It's intense. And I like it a lot," said Buhagiar.

The Cougs are talking most to Buhagiar about playing strongside linebacker or fullback. And the prospect of earning early playing time appeals to him.

"I sat down with coach (Paul) Wulff and talked about what I would be doing if I came here, what WSU has to offer," said Buhagiar.

THAT INCLUDES THE chance to play in the Pac-10. Buhagiar is trying to decide if he wants to stay close to home and attend San Jose State, about an hour away from home and where his two brothers go to school, or head to WSU and play in the Conference of Champions.

"Until this trip, I never truly understood what Pac-10 meant. But yesterday I epiphany. I stood in the middle of the field and looked around at the stands and it just hit me. I imagined the stands being filled, I imagined the WSU coaches yelling from the sidelines... It was like, 'Wow. I can really see myself here for the next five years.'"

Buhagiar said one of the main goals of his visit was to see if he would fit in with the players on the team. That, said Buhagiar, was a slam dunk.

"They're crazy. Their freshman class is extremely close -- they do everything together and I love that. I feel like I fit in really well with them. They're all just a good bunch of guys and they have each others' backs...We're not even going there yet, the recruits, and they were watching out for all of us and everyone was having a good time," said Buhagiar.

Buhagiar said he was going to think about the pros and cons of his final two, Washington State and SJSU, over the next couple of weeks and come to his decision.

THIS PAST SEASON, including playoff games, Buhagiar racked up 92 tackles all told on a season where he was named the co-MVP of the Diablo Valley Athletic League.

He rushed for 1,011 yards, with 21 touchdowns. Other defensive numbers include two forced fumbles, two sacks and two interceptions. Over on offense, he also had 135 receiving yards.

Vince Buhagiar profile

Strength numbers for Buhagiar include a 400-pound squat and a 475 pound deadlift. His power clean is 300 pounds and his bench is 285.

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